As a coalition of ISIS fighters, Sunni militias, and former Baathists continues to push its way toward Baghdad, the Iraqi army and Shiite militias have fought to slow its progress. In Mosul, however, ISIS and other Sunni forces now exert total control. Confusion remains about what exactly happened there, and why Iraqi soldiers abandoned their posts so quickly. There is much speculation about the role high-ranking officers in the Iraqi army might have played, and whether or not they were involved in internal sabotage or had advance knowledge of the assault. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already fired a number of high-ranking officers, and ordered one to be court-martialed for desertion.
After fighting broke out, hundreds of thousands of civilians fled Mosul for territory controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government, many Iraqi army deserters among them. A seven-year veteran of the Iraqi army who sought refuge in Erbil agreed to talk to VICE News about what happened on the condition that we withhold his identity.